Propaganda against the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) went too far as to produce a number of reactions leaded by numerous non-Muslim people who tried to abuse the memory of the Prophet and draw cartoons deforming his image from the moral to the profane. Such accumulation of events, always, revive within Muslims a sense of Islamic belonging and an opportunity for them to express their unconditional love and reverence for the Prophet Muhammad, despite the fact it may genarate violence, which most wise and good Muslims can not agree upon. Such events and reactions, often, raise questions and controversial debates about the status of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in the Muslim mind. Unlike Christianity, Muslims do not revere the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) as Lord or any kind of Supreme Power, for this trait belongs to God alone. Rather, we see in the Prophet Muhammad a 'teacher' and a 'leader'. He is the first the role model personality in Islamic history. He was a man who lived life to the full, and every section of his life teaches a moral story. Almost everyone knows that the Prophet Muhammad belongs to a wealthy and famous lineage, but the misfortunes and plights of worldly life draw him to a life of orphanage and hard work. A life full of struggle to survive against pain and deprivation. As a child he worked as a shephered, and as a young man he adopted trade. He was not a wealthy tradesman, but he excelled for his truthfull and straightforward character. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) met lady Khadija and married her, when she asked him for marriage through some of her acquaintances. Eventhough, she was older than him, but togther they lived a happy marriage. He was the successfull merchant and husband, who indulged and practiced life to the full from accomplishing his duties as a husband and maintainer to the simple man who shared life with his wives in all its aspects. He used to help in cleaning his own clothes, preparing food for the family. He lived a life of seclusion from the corruption he saw in his own community. Before the revelation, he used to seek refuge in the cave of Hiraa for meditation about nature and about the chaos and the moral corruption in which the Arabian land was engulfed. Meditation was his prayer and his future perspective which came true through the revelation.
At the age of 40 years old, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) received the first revelation 'read in the name of your Lord who created, created Man from a clot, read and your Lord is the most bountifull, thaught by the pen, thaught Man that which he knew not." One could ask, why the age of 40 years? Why was the revelation so late? The age of 40 is the age of both physical, intelectual, and spirtitual maturity. God was preparing the Prophet Muhammad to hold the last message, and seal Abrahamic religions with the name of Islam. His orphanage prepared him to face the denial of people, and his work as a shephered prepared him to the hardships of call to Islam. His work as a tradesman earned the reputation of the honest, truthfull, and the just man through the Arabian Peninsula. Every section in his life was a prelude to the revelation; to get him ready for the hardship of the call to Islam. To those doubt the revelation, I say: the Prophet Muhammad was uneducated, and the first divine call was 'read'. It was a severe, straightforward divine instruction to read, to seek knowledge, because only knowledge would prepare the 'uneducated' Prophet to teach the message of Islam to the whole Arabian Peninsula. The first knowledge that he got was about the creation of Man. God supported the Prophet with the miracle of creation from a clot, which is the first evidence that the modern science confirmed, and which God taught His Prophet 1400 years ago. The second revelation came with the instruction to begin the call among his family and relatives, which after almost three years, he began to call in public enounters and pilgrimmages. By his perseverance, the Prophet succeeded to form a small Muslim community, which underwent all kind of tortures and boycotts from the pagans of Qur'aish. These new conditions led the Prophet to immigrate to Al Medinah. The Prophet moved with this immigration from the messenger to the political leader who had to assemble the migrants and the supporters of al Medinah under a nation and a constitution, which was called the Medinah Charter. Then, to the social reformer who organised the social and economic bonds between Muslims by regulating marriages, divorce issues, contractual relationship in terms of trade, and established a strong defense system against external threats, and leaded battles against the pagan traitors.
For us Muslims, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is the simple husband, from whom we can learn the values of mercy and peacefull coexistence, the loving parent, the honest tradesman, the revolutionary figure who defied the customs and corruptions of his time, the messenger of peace, to the political leader, social reform, and magnanimous warrior. He represents a whole faith with all its moral values, and solid teachings. He is the first personality in Islamic history, who brought Muslims from tribal fights to the unity of the Islamic Ummah.
In our country, Ramadan, last year, has been quite different from others, especialy in terms of weather. As it was summertime, it was very hot, and we fasted a little bit more than usual. Indeed, climatic changes could never affect or hinder the event of fasting Ramadan, but it would, rather, make it more real and meaningful. The principle is that in our Islamic thought " the more hardship we endure,the more we are rewarded, and the more our sins could be forgiven", but forgivness and reward could not be real only if we fulfill the conditions of fasting. Let me speak about the "notion of reward" in itself; Reward has two different meanings in this context. First, I meant by reward getting the forgiveness and satisfaction of God, because, in the first place, we fast to satisfy God, and get His everlasting reward of "paradise". However, during the experience of fasting, one can discover other kinds of "rewards", which are more physical and spiritual.
During fasting, the stomach empties itself automatically from useless substance, through the processus of digestion. The food that we, normally eat at night, gets enough time to be digested during the day, while vitamins and minerals, get ,also, time to be absorbed by the blood. " blood is able to run though your whole body more evenly rather than sending much of it to your stomach for digestion purposes". Thus, blood circulation becomes more focused in maintaining the good functioning of our body, that one feels himself pure and more ready to deal with the different tasks daily life than usual. Another, physical benefit of fasting Ramadan is more related with smokers, drug addicts, and alcoholic people. Most people who are used to getting different kinds of drugs or harmful substances to the body, and have the willingness to get rid of such bad habits can take a real benefit , not only, from fasting once or twice, but for a much longer period. fasting could be a good occasion for ending or ,at least, reducing smoking or drug addiction habits, as the body gets a lesser amount of nicotine and toxics than usual and during a period at least of 30 or 29 days. Enabling oneself to reduce the amount of toxic substances that the blood abosrbs every day, the body becomes adjusted to take lesser amounts of it, and the blood is purified, gradually, from these toxic substances.
The body acclimatises itself to take less, but give more, as our whole concentration would shift to the most rewarding and useful activities like family life, prayers, work, helping others, or artistic activities. In Ramadan, people get enough time to accomplish their day life tasks or,even, accomplish new activities like sport, writting, reading, or research that is in general, but most of the times Muslims devote it to prayers, and reading the Quran.
Thus, one can easily take notice that the physical rewards of Ramadan fasting gives us the opportunity to take care of the spiritual side. Fasting is a code of conduct, it educates people to shift from selfish needs to remember those people who are obliged to overcome hunger for the whole their life time. Through fasting, one can have enough time to care about removing the bad habits of human nature, like eavesdroping, backbitting, telling lies, which usually spoil the meaning of fasting. Fasting educates people to be more patien tand loving, as they get rid of bad habits in human nature, and devote their time to helping others, or involve in charity activities.
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was crucial in this point when he said:
"there are those who gain from fasting, nothing but hunger, and those who gain from (night) prayers nothing but loss of sleep".
I think that this saying sums up that " the principle of our practice is to become a better person". Life is a very hard struggle, and these struggles are deeply embeded and engendred by religious events like Ramadan.
This post is an extension to my previous post "The Pleading Woman in Qur'an". Many years after the revelation of Al Mujadala, and at the Khilafa (sucession period) of Omar Ibn Khattab, this old woman met the Khalifa (may God bless him) on the road while he was walking with some of his companions. This brave woman stopped Omar and said:
" O Omar! We used to call you Omairan (dimishing of Omar the name-a feature of Arabic language), and after we called you Omar, and now we call you the Prince of all believers. It is because of this that you should, always, live under the fear of God."
Khaoula was not trying to diminish the value of Omar Ibn Khattab in front of his companions, but, just, wanted to tell him that as a Man reaches a higher rank, he should never forget that God is higher than him. The companions of the Khalifa went angry about her and blamed Omar for hearing to what she had to say, due to the fact that she was an old, unknown women (to them) and that Omar was Khalifa. Then, Omar reminded his companions that this was the woman that God sent the revelation of Al Mujadala verse on her behalf, and for that she has the right to be heard. If God Himself and His Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) pleaded for her, and gave her the right to voice her frustrations and beliefs and to be heard, why Omar should not?
Another story that I learnt about the issue of women in Islam is the story of Barira, the ex. servant of Aicha (peace be upon her), and whom the Prophet Muhammad liberated her after and gave her the right to decide on her marriage with her husband, Moghit. Barira did not love Moghit, while the Prophet knew this. This woman told the Prophet (pbuh) that she wants divorce for no reason that she does not love him. When Moghit suffer from refusal and spent all his days convincing her of his attachement to her, the Prophet felt pity for him, and went to Barira to convince to regress on her decision. She said: Is this your order Prophet? He replied: "I am here to talk on his behaf". She replied: "if not (if it is not an order), it is no, I do not want him."
You see how the Prophet was talking to this woman. Yet, she was an ex. servant, but he treated her as woman with full right of expression and decision. Another story supporting this one narrate the example of a woman who comes to the Prophet to complain about her father, who forced her to marry a man she did not like -he was either a friend of the family or a cousin. The Prophet gave her the choice to decide on her marriage and ask divorce, but she said: " Finally, I have accepted this marriage, but I just want to complain about it and show that parents have no right to enforce women to marry men they do not like."
Can you relate a similar story about any leader in human history, if it was not the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and his respectful position towards women? Women at the time of the Prophet used to meet with the Prophet concerning their issues, and ask, courageously, for their rights and for protection, and he never chided them, but always talked on their behalf. I recall another story that I heard from a Muslim Imam that Aicha the wife of the Prophet was suspicious of his feeling towards her, and began to blame him for this in front of his companion Abu Baker (may God bless him). Abu Baker felt angry about the Prophet (pbuh) and wanted to slap her. The dear Prophet came in between and stopped him. After Abu Baker went out, the Prophet told Aicha: " You see! I have defended against Abu Baker." (eventhough, you were disrespectful)
Aicha like Abu Baker (peace be upon them) as we can be are all imperfect people, we make mistakes and getlessons from it, but the Prophet of God was above all these imperfections. As Aicha said: he was a walking Qur'an; ie, he had a Qur'anic morality (peace and blessings be upon him)
"God has heard the saying of her that disputes with you ( Muhammad ) concerning her husband , and complaines unto God . And God hears your colloquy . Allah is Nearer, Knower ."
(Sourah Al Mujadala/The dispute)
Aicha (peace be upon her), the wife of the Prophet, and known in Islam as the mother of all beleivers, has reported that a woman called Khaoula Bint Tâalaba went to the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) to complain to him about the ill-treatement of her husband. After long years of domestic struggle and shared life, and as she reached old age, her husband began to repudiate her saying that she is to him like " the back of his mother". This was a common expression used by men in the pre-Islamic era to repudiate and, even, divorce women who are no longer young and attractive to them. This forbidden practice is called in Islam "Dihar", signifying the "repudiation of women". This brave woman went to the Prophet (pbuh), and began to complain how she has been good to her husband during all these years of marriage, and the degree of pain she feels about it, and expresses her refusalto be subjected to such humilation. During her complaints, God, the Almighty, revealed this Qur'anic verse to Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) to show him how to handle this situation, and confirm to him that this practice should be forbidden in Islam.
To all those who spread misinformation and lies about the status of women in Islam, I suggest you to read closely this verse and ponder over it. Feminism is not a new trend in human history, it was a movement, which flourished with the advent of Islam, supported by a divine message. This woman called Khaoula might not be the only woman to be treated this way, but she was brave enough to take the first step towards exposing the humilation that women in the pre-Islamique era went through. She did not send a message to the Prophet or complain to any one of his wives, but went, directly, to him, and talked to the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) about her intimate relationship with her husband. Islam gave her the right to express herself and be heard. This divine message also came with the notion of "social reform", as God exposed to the Prophet the problem of"Dihar", and ordered him to abolish this practice.
The Qur'anic verse does not stop in, merely, exposing the problem and forbidding this pre-Islamic pratice, but sets penalties to men in case they want to carry on their relationships with their wives. God says in the same Surah in Qur'an:
"Those who repudiate their wives and afterwards would go back on that which they have said ;in that case the freeing of a slave before they touch one another . Unto this you are exhorted ; and Allah is informed of what you do .And he who finds not, let him fast for two successive months before they touch one another ; and for him who is unable to do so ( the penalty is ) the feeding of sixty needy ones . This, that you may put trust in Allah and His messenger . Such are the limits ( imposed by Allah ) ; and for disbelievers is a painful doom ."
According to Islam, the repudiation of a woman does not give the man thr right to "touch her" untill he pays the penalties set by God:
1-freeing a slave.
(if not) 2-fasting two successive months.
(if not) 3-feeding 60 needy person.
Look, how the wisdom of God treats repudiation, not as we witness, nowadays, a man can humilate his wife, and then have sexual relationship with her whenever he wants, and with her agreement (foolish women!). The solutions set on behalf of women goes beyond the situation itself, and extends to freeing a slave, or enduring the hardship of fasting 2 successive months!, or feeding 60 poor people!. The man has to go through one of these penalties either material or spiritual (fast) as an acknowledgement of the ill-treatement and an attempt to gain her compassion. It is educating in some sense, as it would push him to feel the harm she endured from him, and restore the missed love and respect between the two couples.
If the man does not comply, God announces a 'painful doom" to "disbeleivers". Look, God does not call such men 'rebellious' or 'disobedient', but disbeleivers. He who does not treat his wife well, insult, or repudiate her is disobeying and rebellious to God.
The Prophet Muhammad says:
"Paradise lies at the feet of mothers"
A woman should respected, obeyed as well (by her family), if treated otherwise only divine punishement follow, and divine Punishement is heavier than any human laws.
When the spider hurries to weave its web around the door
And the doves build its nests and lay its eggs on the floor
And the tree spreads its branches around your cave
And against the intricacies Allah spreads his slaves
Coming to give you shelter and protect you from harm
While the enemies are in every side spreading the alarm
There they kept waiting in despair around the sheltering rocks
While you were there teasing your companion from shock
And with love you kept saying “Allah is with us, don’t worry!”
While the night surges all around the cave in a hurry
What a witness of love greater than this amazing and lovely sight!
There you begin your quest for freedom late at night
A miraculous quest from the night of pains and starvation
To the dawn of freedom; towards the building of a nation
And when the rays of daylight break over the lonely night
Men and women kept waiting with eager eyes your dear sight
Singing and crying from joy Allah is great, Allah is great…
The messenger of God shone like the moon upon the land
Coming to us far away from the valleys and the sands…
O messenger of Allah you brought honour and joy over the land!
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